Sunday, June 25, 2006

Quote of the Day

"All people, Jews or gentiles, who dare not defend themselves when they know they are in the right, who submit to punishment not because of what they have done but because of who they are, are already dead by their own decision; and whether or not they survive physically depends on chance. If circumstances are not favorable, they end up in gas chambers."
— Bruno Bettelheim, "Freud's Vienna and Other Essays"

My thanks to Gideon @ Armchair Intellectual for pointing out the article where the above quote was taken. Here's the link to the article:

The above quote also reminds me of the importance of both Free Speech and the recognition of what that particular moral principle [and all authentic moral principles] rests on---reason. Here's a related, crucial article in that regard, from the Objective Standard.[Registration or subscription required]

Friday, June 23, 2006

Laugh your *** off

Monty Python [and YouTube] present:

drumroll please.....

The International Philosophy Soccer Match!!!!!

Hilarious is all I can say, between bouts of laughter.

Go. Now.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Myrhaf has returned...

...albeit for a brief message at his blog ;-)

Go check him out and wish him well.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Flying in the face of reality

As Objectivists, we know how crucial fundamental ideas are, for good or ill. Apparently, we're the only ones, as this article about Afghanistan shows. The Taliban is increasing its presence there due in part to what they conceive as a weakness in America's position. This Washington Post article has a 'money quote' that just can't be overlooked, and I highlight it here.

"The Taliban are opportunists," said John Stuart Blackton, a retired U.S. diplomat who consults on Afghan issues with the National Intelligence Council, which produces government intelligence forecasts. "They have no deep ideology and no deep theory that informs what they are doing. . . . In other words, they are better understood as being like a crime family in New Jersey."

The rest of the article should be read, as well. Here's the link:

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Truth Meter

...pegged once again by Ed Cline over @ The Rule of Reason. His target this time is the suicides at Gitmo.


All right. Two Saudis and one Yemeni committed suicide at the Guantanamo Bay prison. And? As one correspondent of mine remarked: "Since Muslims are committing suicide on a daily basis all over the world -- and killing as many others as is possible with themselves -- what is so hard to believe about three suicides in a jail?" Remember that every one of the 460 detainees at Gitmo was either taken in combat against U.S. forces in Afghanistan or Iraq or elsewhere, or taken as a suspect with terrorist or Taliban connections, and scheduled to be tried by a tribunal.

It is hard to believe if reality does not conform to one's wishes.

Remember that these are not "rockin'" fans of the Dixie Chicks or gentle Bono groupies or twittering sycophants of Muslim-patronizing Prince Charles of Britain, spirited away from Pennsylvania Avenue or the Strand and unlawfully incarcerated without charge. These are men who would just as soon as cut the throats of American civilians with box-cutters, hijack another planeload of them and smash it into the U.S. Capitol in an act of suicidal jihad. Or at least stockpile bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer to grow more piles of Western bodies and rubble.

Go. Read it all.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

"Nuance" or Whitewash, anyone? What's your definition of definition?

From the International Herald Tribune, we have the following headline:

Iran's Leader and Israel: What did he say, and what did he mean?

Ever since he spoke at an anti-Zionism conference in Tehran last October, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has been known for one statement above all. As translated by news agencies at the time, it was that Israel "should be wiped off the map."


For months, a debate among Iran specialists over both questions has been intensifying. It starts as a dispute over translating Persian, but quickly turns on whether the United States (with help from Israel) is doing to Iran what some believe it did to Iraq - building a case for military action predicated on a faulty premise.

...still more...

"Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to wipe Israel off the map, because no such idiom exists in Persian," remarked Juan Cole, a Middle East specialist at the University of Michigan and a critic of U.S. policy who has argued that the Iranian president was misquoted.

"He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse." Since Iran has not "attacked another country aggressively for over a century," he said If Steele and Cole are right, not one word of the quotation - Israel should bBut translators in Tehran who work for the president's office and the Foreign Ministry disagree with them. All official translations of Ahmadinejad's statement, including a description of it on his Web site,, refer to wiping Israel away.
e wiped off the map - is accurate.

...the hook...

If Steele and Cole are right, not one word of the quotation - Israel should be wiped off the map - is accurate.

But translators in Tehran who work for the president's office and the Foreign Ministry disagree with them. All official translations of Ahmadinejad's statement, including a description of it on his Web site,, refer to wiping Israel away.

Sohrab Mahdavi, one of the most prominent Iranian translators, and Siamak Namazi, managing director of a Tehran consulting firm, who is bilingual, both say "wipe off" or "wipe away" is more accurate than "vanish" because the Persian verb is active and transitive.

Full story:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

June reading

I'm starting a new trend here at SecFox HQ. Instead of having a dozen--or more-- half-read books stacked all around the house, I'm picking one fiction and one non-fiction book to read, per month.
June selections:

Fiction: The Exile by Alan Folsom

Non-Fiction: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

Toronto & Homegrown Terrorists [Global Guerrillas]

The story of the 17 arrests in Toronto has been out for a few days now. I've discovered a website/blog that deals with 'systems disruption' and many other issues concerning the new face of war in the 21st century.
John Robb is a former Air Force officer and Department of Defense Counter-terrorism expert who now has a website dedicated to reporting on 'open-source warfare' and other issues affecting economics. He has an article devoted to what the discovery of these homegrown [for now, alleged] terrorists means to all of us in the West.

Do not fail to copy and paste this link in your browser. Agree or disagree with him, he provides plenty of food-for-thought. Read his 'About' page,too.

Here's a snippet:


Like London, the Toronto cell came together in a familiar pattern of community formation (for more see the brief on emergent communities dedicated to war). This community formation is a classic indicator of open source warfare, since the group didn't need to have any direct connection with al Qaeda in order to form. However, in one area it appears the group fell short. It appears that the group absorbed very little of the innovation developed in other theaters (fortunately):
Symbolic terrorism. The attacks were planned against hard government targets.
These targets required large quantities of explosives and a large team.
The large team and extensive provisioning required for these attacks made it possible to catch them.

Here's what this means

In no particular order:

The incident in Toronto is yet another demonstration that globalization has melted the map. The old boundaries that used to protect us are both ineffective and of little consequence in a world where ideas and people can flow without much restriction.
It also demonstrates that the call of primary loyalties can emerge even within the relative prosperity of a western nation. We are fragmenting, and this is a demonstration of that. As things continue to heat up in the Middle East, particularly when Iran is attacked, we will see an acceleration of fragmentation.
Finally, the errors and failures of this group will likely serve as further reinforcement among prospective actors towards the adoption of systems disruption (which we are seeing emerge globally). We won't be so lucky in the future. Those groups that have adopted this approach are demonstrating that it is possible to remain small and undetectable, reduce provisioning to household items and still achieve massive impact, and survive.

Here's the link and I'm adding Global Guerrillas to my Blogroll.